Worry. Let it grab you, you’re done. I’ve had hours lost because of worry. Worry will sink it’s teeth into all that you’re trying to do and undo it. Small changes though in how we deal with worry and prepare for worry, is something I’d like this focused post to be about.
Stress-free living is a pipe dream. It’s going to happen. Everyone is impacted by it sooner or later. Just a simple trigger is all it takes. It almost never achieves anything. But, worry, is a natural part of our brain telling us we’re in danger. Flight or fight. So we don’t want to get completely rid of it. Our brain is just not very great at telling the difference between real danger or just good old fashion developmental heat. We just want to manage it or be more aware of how it’s impacting us. We can train our brain.
Stop before you fall into the pit. Recognizing it’s a part of a cycle by applying some simple steps, can ensure we don’t continue the death spiral. There’s a loop that is formed with worry and anxiety. It can be triggered at any time or point. Once we’re trapped in this cycle it will take a toll on our productivity. Once we understand how worry and anxiety work together as a feedback loop, we’re on to a great path of moving out of the loop so we’re not stuck in it any more.
One of the first things we can start to understand from our feedback loop is why we’re anchored in it to begin with. For some it’s worrying about whether they’re going to make the next promotion list. For some it’s performance in a marriage or relationship. There’s many causes and they come in all shapes/sizes. All this comes from something in our past. Our painful experiences we’ve had in our past creates worry in our future. So we need to face it before it faces us. Understand it. Where does it comes from? What triggers it? There’s fear of the unknown and we can ensure the unknown isn’t unknown. We can be in complete control of how we respond to it.
Awareness is key. This is the best way to track your worry down, confront it, and then build a strategy to overcome it when it’s next triggered. Understanding the source of our stress gives us power over it. We can be intentional at combating it. Letting it run amuck, it will control us. You’re not in control when you find yourself in the reacting to worry. This drops you into the feedback loop mentioned earlier. One of the best and simplest things we can do is think about the nature of our worry. Sounds counter productive, but when you can control the experiment by triggering it by thought, you’ll understand more how it feels. Understanding thresholds will help you be more thoughtful then reactive when it actually does get triggered for real.
Now that we understand the worry and the state that causes worry to be triggered the most, we can take action and focus to bring the outcomes into scope. We want to do this so we can lean into that instead of the worrying itself. Your in much more control than you think you are. It’s just really hard to understand that when you are just reacting to worry and stuck in a feedback loop that makes you think all is lost. The more in power you feel you are, the better the outcome will be.
Worry is real human condition. As humans we are very unique. No other animal experiences stress triggered solely in its mind like we do. A shark isn’t swimming through the water worrying about whether it will starve or not. A shark doesn’t worry about hypotheticals. It hunts, kills, and eats. This is why just having a positive mindset is so important before you jump into a major project. Over thinking that everything in the world will go wrong for a major presentation will increase your likelihood for something to happen in just that way, bad! Harness the power of positivity. Influence the outcome by thinking you can and determining what it will take to do it. Our imaginations are incredibly powerful! Don’t let it convince you’re going to fail or make a major mistake.
Ask yourself this question:
Would you allow someone to undermine and constantly critique you?
Of course you wouldn’t. So, why do you do it to yourself? We’re our own harshest critic. We’re super hard on ourselves. Flip it. Be confident in yourself. When you can stop doubting yourself, you won’t lose the ability to look at things rationally. When are not confident in your abilities you won’t see things rationally any more. you will lose perspective. Before you know it, you’re in the feedback loop, stuck. Can you imagine Michael Jordan thinking at UNC that he’d never make it to the NBA? Because he wouldn’t think that way. Obviously, he didn’t let others convince he couldn’t either. Stop being so critical of yourself.
The best thing we can do is get down on the ground with our worry and really understand it. Analyze it. Once we can do that we can start to understand why it happens and then make better choices before it lands us in the feedback loop. You’ll find after lots of practice, you’re very capable of how to let go of baseless fears and very unhelpful worries. You will become the best version of yourself that you’re meant to be.
This post is dedicated to all my friends at Southpoint and Mid-A! You know who you are! Thank you for helping me through my worries and allowing me to clear the interference around myself I had, that would have hindered me from unlocking yours. I’m a better leader for having have known you, led side by side with you, and met you all!
Well said, Shawn. It reflects the values that made your leadership time with us so appreciated and valuable. Come back when you can. We miss you as a colleague and a leader.
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I will do that Larry! Look for me hanging out with you all again the last week of August. Hope to see you then!